Inspiration comes from multiple places. After learning of the destructive magic within the throwing star wielded by a fully trained Ninja Spy, I thought briefly how it would be cool to see more use of shuriken before my attention wandered off to Quintessica and her Mystic abilities.
Somebody accepted that challenge. Forum user “Firewall” designed a build that specializes in throwing stars, and I’m shamelessly, proudly creating a version of my own.
The “Shiradi Shuricannon,” by Firewall
I love this design. For starters, it’s a pure Monk, which immediately drew cheers from me.
Firewall wasn’t trying to use the typical min-maxing that comes from multiclassing, but to utilize every racial and class ability, skill and feat to generate the strongest damage you can from the shuriken.
Firewall chose the race that gains natural proficiency and expertise feats with shuriken: the Drow.
His ability stats were atypical for any Monk I’ve played or seen, but for a good reason.
STR 8/DEX 20/CON 14/INT 10/WIS 14 with a 36 point build. Very low STR is weird, yes.
But STR doesn’t define damage when you have a Ninja Spy where DEX to damage ability now applies for piercing and slashing weapons. A high DEX, with Shuriken Expertise, also defines the percentage chance of throwing an additional star per attack.
Over the character’s training, you add in feats that improve the number of stars thrown or extent of damage, such as Point Blank Shot, Quickdraw, Precise Shot, Precision, Rapid Shot, Improved Critical: Thrown, Improved Precise Shot and Ten Thousand Stars.
To help with miss chance, he adds in Dodge and improves that further by selecting the racial ability Improved Dodge for up to a 3% additional bonus. And then he takes the racial ability “Xen’drik Weapon Training:” which adds +1 to hit and damage with shortswords, rapiers and shuriken. Being a ninja, she also gets the Shadow Veil ability for invisibility and incorporeality. She just needs a little Blur happiness from somewhere.
Firewall uses much of the Ninja Spy tree to add poison damage, stealth, dodge and agility, but also dabbles a bit in the Henshin Mystic tree to gain more DEX and passive ki regeneration. That’s an important thing since ranged/thrown damage cannot generate ki, while some throwing abilities will require ki to activate. He threw some points in abilities there that I couldn’t see the point about initially for combat, such as Negotiator.
Reading on, I realized that he wanted the extra Diplomacy for use with the Epic Destiny, Shiradi Champion, and its Epic Moment, Audience with the Queen (a special buff with at least a DC 20). He also put points in the Shintao tree to gain two core enhancements (10% healing amplification, some Tainted protections), and adds points to Ki Shout (use Concentration skill for Intimidate), Conditioning (more Concentration and HP), and points in Exemplar. That’s a weird one since the few Intimidate points given are worthless, but there is the 2 points to Heal for positive healing amplification.
For skills, a point into Tumble, some more Diplomacy, and encourages points in Hide, Move Silently, Jump, and Spot as one has the points to use.
The real challenge in this build isn’t the overall damage, but what you are able to throw at your enemies. Of all the weapons in the game, the shuriken has very few named versions. All of these have the “Returning” feature so you can use it all the time. Throwing stars seem to be in-vogue, so its harder to find loot-generated stars with Returning as its feature. You’ll pay more if they have additional effects or properties such as being Adamantine or Silver.
I’ve been hoarding a few of these long before the enhancement pass. Sadly, my crafting efforts had left some of the better ones bound to the character that holds them. This leaves me with gathering the handful of named stars I shuffle about my characters as they level and crafting a few others for tactical use as required.
- Shadow Star: A simple star that’s easily farmed from the Shan-To-Kar quest chain. Despite having no elemental damage, its Keen property leaves quite a sting.
- Snowstar: An improved version from the Sorrowdusk series from a recent update makes this Icy Burst star quite useable.
- The Morning Star: A new item from “Friends in Low Places” in Wheloon and the only star I’ve seen with an augment slot. Designed to rip undead or shadow enemies apart.
In addition, I need an acid solution (trolls of any kind), a Pure Good solution (I have a couple of Silver returners that I can craft) and an Adamantine solution (golems). But there’s still the likelihood that good ol’ fisticuffs will be required. This build doesn’t specialize in unarmed fighting as well, but I can see taking one Two Weapon Fighting feat to ensure that a couple of shortswords with common DR solutions will take care of what I can’t pew-pew into the afterlife.
Items with Deadly and Accuracy can help, as well as a Doubleshot bonuses I can find on things.
Now, going the full Ninja Spy route means that the build’s throwing stars gain Vorpal at level 20. When you’re throwing as many stars as this character can do, the damage must be completely incredible.
Firewall notes that Shiradi Champion is used as an Epic Destiny for obvious reasons to support and augment thrown damage and a few Epic Feats that will finalize the damage as an Epic character.
A New Member of the Dojo
Getting home yesterday, I rolled up a new character. In celebration of the new character’s difference as well as personal tradition, she has a backstory that is quite different than others in the dojo.
“Szy Dun’Robar was groomed from birth to be a powerful leader. But, as is the way the Drow of the Forgotten Realms, competition to be the Matron Mother is fierce and deadly. Approaching her Age of Maturity, Szy was ambushed by rival sisters and huddled into the darkness of the Underdark, stripped of all gear and left to die. Thankfully, one family friend had learned of the plan and infiltrated the ambush team. The man, a Drow servant named Zhang, left a small cache of essentials and a map in a crevice, with a note: ‘Leave the world of Toril. Find yourself in the outsider world of Xen’drik. Return when ready.’ it said.
Szy made her way to the outskirts of the village of Eveningstar and to a mysterious portal, bristling with Drow energies but smelling of something less..ambitious. In her weakened state, Szy lost consciousness but was discovered and cared for by a small residence of Monks. Recovering, she learned was weaker physically–far weaker in fighting unarmed than others in this monastery. The abbess told her, “Let your inner gifts grow. Use our training to magnify what you already know. What can you do?” she asked.
Szy picked up a wooden training throwing star, like the type she’d played with all her life–and threw it squarely at a wooden training dummy, piercing the dummy with the star, wedged firmly as if the star were made of steel.
The abbess learned of Szy’s life story and warned the young Drow that justice isn’t revenge. In honor of her new teacher, Szy chose the name Szyncletica and began discipleship under Senior Teacher Ryncletica in the art of the ninja. Perhaps, one day, she’d return to the lands that people here called the “Forgotten Realms,” and to the House of Dun’Robar–not to rule or slay, but to humble them and their Matron. To let them know that Szy’s shadow would be ever haunting them and stopping their dark plans against all who simply want to exist.”
Szyncletica (or “Zin” for short in pronunciation) is a young Drow, so some sacrifices were made in her ability points. Thankfully I have a small supply of tomes to give her to compensate a bit.
I skipped the preamble of Korthos and zipped her immediately to level 7 to see what she could initially do. It took quite a bit of hopping from bank character to player character to find suitable gear for her, and she still lacks a bit.
But, armed with what she had, I stepped her into the Searing Heights to screw with things there.
Holy crap. If anything lasted more than three throws, it was because it was a rare encounter. Using only the Shadow Star (which has no elemental damage at all), the hits were fast and accurate. Most things died before they could come remotely close, and her high Spot allowed a ridiculous high target distance. Szy is an impressively nasty slayer, even at a paltry level 7. It almost seemed as if she had been an archer.
I can’t wait to add more ninja training points to gain poison damage. Concentration and ki regeneration are priorities since she can’t use Ten Thousand Stars with less than 20 ki without a non-throwing way to generate it.
Unfortunately, ki attacks can’t work with thrown weapons, so poison and other weapon damage will have to do. That does mean that I can focus all my feats and abilities to maximize the tiny stars in her hand.
Like Hawkeye in Marvel Comics, Szyn will work better from a distance. She’ll need to go very, very ninja in narrow dungeons and sewers to avoid attracting too much attention that she cannot handle. She’s got “scout” written all over her, but infiltration requires her to be able to fight back with more durability.
As for self-healing, it’s a double challenge. Thrown weapons can’t use Vampirism. She hasn’t any spell-like abilities related to healing. I’ll have to see what can be done, but she’s likely going to avoid hordes unless distance gives her an advantage. As in her imagined backstory, Szyn may always be vulnerable to mobs.
I’ll be trouncing through the “Sentinels of Stormreach” adventures to gain access to House Deneith’s weapon supplier for partially-returning shurikens if they suit the need.
Of course, getting one of the Wheloon stars is strong in my mind.
(Updated to correct the misspelling of my own character’s name. That’s sad. It’s pronounced “Zen-CLET-ti-ca” as in, ‘What is the sound of one arm throwing?’)